Tõnis Saarts: Kaljulaid must demonstrate capabilities, learn politician's role
Tallinn University political scientist Tõnis Saarts believes that while the public does not yet know much about Kersti Kaljulaid, she has what it takes to become a strong president in both the domestic and foreign policy arenas. Former colleague Sandor Liive also noted that Kaljulaid would not be a convenient president for the political elite.
Saarts told ETV nightly news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera" that the public expects of a president chosen this way that they would take their work very seriously and understand that they must begin restoring the credibility of the institution.
"I think that it wouldn't pay for us to to be very concerned that this may initially be a president that isn't very popular among the people," said Saarts. "If we recall Lennart Meri, then based on opinion pieces [written about him], he wasn't at all popular in the early 1990s after entering office; his popularity came later."
Saarts considered the greatest challenge for Kaljulaid herself to prove that she is a capable president in both the domestic and foreign policy arenas regardless of the fact that she all but appointed for the office, not an elected president.
Another challenge, cited the political scientist, would be learning the role of a politician. As Kersti Kaljulaid did not participate in the debates and discussions involved in the presidential elections, the public does not know much about her views on things.
Sandor Liive, who had invited Kaljulaid to become director of state-owned energy company Eesti Energia's Iru Power Plant in the early 2000s, said he knew Kaljulaid since the days when she was still serving as economic advisor to Prime Minister Mart Laar.
"She is very smart, and very sharp — sharp in a good way," said Liive. "She is capable of picking out the essence [of something] from within a very large amount of information. And even in conflicting situations she is capable of being very persuasive ... and maintaining a good relationship even with the adverse party."
Neither Liive nor Saarts believes that, despite the selection process, Kersti Kaljulaid would become a convenient president, referred to in Estonian also as a "porcelain president," for the political elite.